A Bulawayo-based youth pressure group, National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), has called for the repeal of a section of the Citizenship Act, which it described not only as discriminatory, but as an infringement on the enjoyment of basic human rights.
The youths said the Act made it impossible for them to exercise their rights as citizens to participate in national processes once they attained the age of 18 outside the country’s borders.
The Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act Section 9 (5) stipulates that: “A citizen of Zimbabwe who, when he becomes of full age, is also a citizen of a foreign country shall cease to be a citizen of Zimbabwe one year after he attains his majority unless, before expiry of that period, he has effectively renounced his foreign citizenship in accordance with the law of that foreign country and has made a declaration confirming such renunciation in the form and manner prescribed.”
This means a Zimbabwean citizen who is also entitled to the citizenship of another country would lose his Zimbabwean citizenship if he does not renounce foreign citizenship within one year of turning 18 years.
Therefore, individuals only become foreign citizens when they have actively applied and been granted such a citizenship status.
In a statement on Sunday, NYDT said: “People known as ‘aliens’ in our country have often needed to go through the courts to claim their citizenship.
“This has seen some youths being excluded from participating in national processes such as elections because they cannot get the necessary documentation that supports their citizenship.”
The organisation says such measures infringe on the democratic rights of young people who want to register as voters because they are unlawfully viewed as “aliens”.
However, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said a Zimbabwean citizen did not have to produce written proof or confirmation that he was not a citizen of a foreign country in order to establish his Zimbabwean citizenship status.
But, an official at the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office said in the event the RG’s Office refused an individual Zimbabwean citizenship, they must produce documentary proof in the form of a foreign passport or certificate.